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IAEA Confirms Iran Has Boosted Uranium Enrichment In Breach Of Nuclear Deal

File - An anti aircraft gun is seen in front of the reactor building of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, February 26, 2018
File - An anti aircraft gun is seen in front of the reactor building of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, February 26, 2018

UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has confirmed on Monday July 8 that the level of uranium enrichment by Iran has gone beyond the 3.67 percent allowed by the 2015 nuclear accord.

Meanwhile, Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman for the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization told reporters in Tehran that enrichment has already crossed the 4.5 percent line and there is nothing to stop Iran from increasing enrichment level to 20 percent.

Based on the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Islamic Republic of Iran undertook to keep its uranium enrichment below 3.67 percent for 15 years from 17 January 2016 to 16 January 2031.

The report released by the IAEA on Monday does not say how the agency will react to the breach of the JCPOA by Iran.

However, the IAEA board of governors is to hold a special meeting on Wednesday at the request of the United States to discuss the suspension of Tehran's commitment to the nuclear deal.

This was Iran's second step in suspending its commitments since May 8 in protest to what it called Europe's failure to help Iran maintain trade after the United States left the agreement last year.

Iran's first step in this connection was to announce last week that it will no longer respect the 300 kilogram limit the JCPOA has considered for the country's stockpile of enriched Uranium.

Western countries such as UK, Germany and France have reacted negatively to Iran's decision, however, China, another signatory to the JCPOA has blamed U.S. pressures on Iran for the new development.

Europe says it has recently made operational a financial system to help Iran purchase its requirements for food and medicine regardless of U.S. sanctions on Iran's international banking, but Iran says the mechanism, INSTEX, cannot be helpful as long as European countries refuse to purchase oil from Iran.

Meanwhile, Iranian daily newspaper Khorassan wrote on Sunday that in 2015 "Iran had accepted limitations on its nuclear program, including enrichment level and stockpiling its enriched Uranium, as a trade-off with the lifting of previous international sanctions.” Now that the Washington has reimposed the its own sanctions, there is no reason for Iran to be still committed to those limitations.

The newspaper added, quoting an official who spoke on condition of anonymity, that the enrichment level will be boosted only in the Natanz reactor and that increasing enrichment level at other sites, such as Fordow, is not currently on Tehran's agenda.

The daily also added that it takes Iran at least 50 days to increase its enriched uranium stockpile beyond the agreed 300 kilogram level.

Iran has announced that it needs to enrich Uranium to generate electricity, produce radio-medicine, and using it as fuel for its modern ships. However, Tehran has always said that the main objective of its nuclear program is to generate electricity and that it needs to enrich uranium to about 5 percent for this purpose.

Iran’s only need for uranium enriched at 20 percent is for its Tehran reactor which produces material for treating certain diseases such as cancer. In the early 2000s when this reactor was running out of 20 percent fuel and the production of medicine needed for cancer patients was endangered, the West refused to sell 20 percent fuel to Iran. Later, Iran claimed that its scientists had enriched Uranium by 20 percent locally. However, foreign sources said Iran bought its requirement for that grade of uranium from abroad.

According to Khorassan, although Iran has started gradual suspension of its commitments under the nuclear deal, Tehran has always shown that it is prepared to make compromises in order to open a way and return to the previous conditions, if its interests are protected.